Taking its cues from games like Streets of Rage and Double Dragon, Streets of Red adds a modern twist to old school beat em ups by including some fairly unique mechanics to bring a classic arcade formula slashing and screaming into the modern era. What would happen if the zombie apocalypse suddenly arrived during a gaming convention? We're about to find out...
Your first task is to choose a character - four are available from the start, with a further two being unlocked by meeting certain objectives within the game. Each character has the same simple controls (never more involved than pressing a direction and a single button), although their weapons and attacks vary so each one feels different to the others. You might notice that they look a little familiar - Streets of Red contains countless references to video games and movies both new and old, and throughout the game there are plenty of visual and aural treats that will raise a smile from eagle-eyed/eared players.
SOR consists of four levels that can be tackled in any order. Your first level lasts for one “night”, your second lasts for two, and so on. So if you were to choose the sewer level first, you'll only have to make it through one section of that particular level, but if you take it on second, you'll have to get through two. A single playthrough will usually take around an hour, although you'll want to make sure you're playing on at least ‘normal’ difficulty if you want to see the true ending of the game. There's also an “expert” mode that includes a few options that not only increase the difficulty but also increases the amount of money it costs to buy your way back in if you die.
“Buy your way back in?” The game autosaves at the start of each level, but - much like a real arcade game - if you die mid-game the only way to continue from the spot where you died is by buying your way back in, except here you'll be using money collected from defeated enemies rather than real life cash. A rare continue token is also available, and can be incredibly useful although it takes you back to the beginning of the stage rather than immediately picking up from where you left off. If you're out of cash and tokens, guess what? Your save file is deleted right before your eyes and you're back to the main menu. It sounds a tad harsh, but as a homage to the early days of arcade goodness, it works perfectly.
With its branching paths containing a wide variety of different stages, enemies and bosses, littered with knowing references too many of our favourite franchises, Streets of Red was made for multiple playthroughs. The story mode supports up to four co-op players, and there are are also achievements to earn and an additional survival mode to test your skills and endurance. With its generous amount of content and incredibly addictive gameplay, here's hoping SOR achieves all the success it truly deserves.
STREETS OF RED: DEVIL'S DARE DELUXE / DEVELOPER: SECRET BASE / PLATFORM: NINTENDO SWITCH, PS4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW